Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement

Letter to the editor: Free Willie from corporate sponsors

Last weekend I returned to campus for my 40th reunion, and I was more than a little disappointed, and not just because we lost another football game that we probably should have won. You see, my class was best known for taking over buildings and shutting down Sheridan Road during the student strike in 1970. And I was sad to learn that more than a few former classmates had eventually “sold out to the man,” and worked for corporations we had vilified during our protest days.

But I was really disturbed when I ran into an old friend who was so shameless about “selling out” that he showed up at the reunion brazenly sporting a big corporate logo on the front of his shirt. Unfortunately, the friend to whom I refer is Willie the Wildcat – now presumably to be called “Willie the Wildcat brought to you by Meijer.” Of course, the Meijer logo is strategically placed where it will be prominently featured in every photo that Willie poses for with every cute little Wildcat wannabe.

I don’t blame Willie. I sincerely doubt that he had any say in the matter. Besides, he never complains about anything. Even when we’re blowing huge leads to teams we should be able to put away, he keeps giving us that same old Willie smile. I certainly applaud anyone who is willing to support Northwestern athletics, but couldn’t Meijer be satisfied with a sign on the scoreboard, a page in the program, or a “shout-out” to their tailgate recipes on the NU athletics website?

Yes, I understand that Pat Fitzgerald is officially the “Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach.” But Fitz doesn’t have his sponsors’ names sewn on his sideline attire and neither should Willie.

For years, Coca-Cola has pretty much claimed that they “own” Santa Claus, but even Coke has not tried to slap its corporate logo on Old Saint Nick. Doesn’t Willie deserve the same respect?

Back in my day we might have boycotted Meijer or staged a protest in front of their stores. Occupy Meijer’s would have made Occupy Wall Street seem like a walk in the park, which to some extent it is. But there are more creative ways to deal with this problem.

Here’s one suggestion: take the Meijer logo off of Willie’s shirt and sew it to the front of every one of Morty’s well-tailored suits. He’s far more articulate than Willie, though arguably less huggable. Besides, Morty goes overseas a lot so the Meijer’s people would get a lot of international exposure.

Assuming that Morty refuses to cooperate, we could all join together and buy back Willie’s soul. I have a feeling that if we put up more money than Meijer we could “sponsor” Willie, and return him to his rightful owners: the Northwestern family. I don’t know what Meijer paid for the privilege of stitching their logo on Willie’s jersey, but I’m betting that if each of us – every current student and every living alum – sent the athletics department a check for ten cents we’d be able to free Willie. And if we were unsuccessful in our endeavor, at least they’d have a nice down payment on that new athletic complex they keep talking about.

Won’t you please join me in my crusade? If you don’t I fear that by the time you return to campus for your 40th reunion Willie will resemble a NASCAR driver, the alma mater will be rewritten to include corporate slogans, and you’ll be spending far more time than I am photoshopping logos out of your favorite mascot’s pictures.

Some things in life just shouldn’t be for sale. Like Fitz or Santa or Morty or especially Willie.

Ed Streb

Class of ‘71

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Letter to the editor: Free Willie from corporate sponsors